Over 50,000 surgeries cancelled despite empty Ontario hospital beds: FOA

Apr 28 2020, 12:26 pm

In Ontario, 52,700 surgeries have been cancelled and 12,200 surgical procedures have been delayed weekly, despite the fact that the province has empty hospital beds waiting to be filled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario’s (FOA) recent report, in order to prioritize the coronavirus patients, hospitals freed up acute and critical care beds delaying or cancelling surgeries altogether.

“Elective procedures are often not optional. Rather, elective procedures are not immediately required or, in the judgment of the health professional, riskier to conduct during a crisis than after the crisis,” the FAO report says.

“These surgeries include some cancer-related procedures, operations to address blood vessel problems, some cardiac procedures, gall bladder and hernia operations, hip replacements and cataract surgery and cosmetic surgeries.”

However, there has not been in the influx of patients the province was expected, resulting in thousands of empty care beds needed for patients awaiting surgery.

“To accommodate a potential influx in COVID-19 patients, the province and Ontario hospitals funded new acute and critical care beds, cancelled elective surgeries and other non-urgent clinical activity,” the report said.

Around, 1,000 hospital patients were relocated to alternative settings and deployed additional ventilators. These actions freed-up an additional 9,349 acute care beds, of which 2,077 were critical care beds.

As of April 28, there were 957 hospitalized coronavirus patients, meaning 8,392 beds are available.

“The province has a significant amount of remaining available capacity to accommodate COVID-19 hospitalizations,” the report said.

According to FOA, hospitalizations are on the rise most likely for patients in long-term care homes, as some facilities have begun to transfer residents to local hospitals, using the unoccupied hospital beds.

By doing so, it may help long-term care homes better isolate their remaining residents and effectively manage the outbreaks occurring in the facilities.

The FAO estimates that between April 13 and 23, over 30% of new coronavirus cases in Ontario were from long-term care homes.

On Tuesday during a press conference Minister of Health Christine Elliot said that hospitals will be looked at immediately when measures in the province can begin to be loosened in order for patients awaiting surgery to have their procedures done as quickly as possible.

But Elliot said as long as virus numbers continue to increase, it will not be safe for patients to have surgery at this time.

As of April 28, there are 15,381 total coronavirus cases with 951 reported deaths in Ontario.